A swish of mouthwash could be more than a route to minty fresh breath. Researchers are working to develop a test that could detect the presence of certain cancers based on compounds found in saliva samples. The proposed test would key in on hypermethylated genes, chemically modified pieces of DNA that can be found in the presence of some cancers of the head and neck. The scientists involved have found that by looking at the cellular debris found in a sample of saliva from patients with cancer, it was possible to detect cancer about 42 percent of cases. The researchers were able to use their test to rule out cancer in almost 82 percent of healthy patients. In this segment, Ira talks with one of the researchers involved with the project about its potential for cancer screening.
Produced by Molly Webster